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An Exploration of Italian Wine

Damilano Arneis Langhe 2009
Dana Nigro
Posted: September 8, 2010

I met a couple friends recently at 'Inoteca wine bar in Manhattan to chat about their upcoming trip to Ireland, which I visited earlier this summer, over plates of assorted bruschette and cured meats. Most of the Italian wines on the by-the-glass list were unfamiliar to us—I either knew the grape, region or producer, but never all three at once. (I was reminded of the experience Matt Kramer described in his recent column, “Are You Afraid of Italian Wines?”)

While my friends experimented with different reds from Piedmont and Tuscany, I targeted the lighter side of the list, whites and rosés. I've enjoyed Damilano's Barolos and Barberas, so I figured its 2009 Arneis—a variety native to the Piedmont region—was a good bet at $10 a glass. Crisp with citrus, mineral, white peach and cantaloupe, its fresh character went nicely with the fagiolo (white beans) with mint bruschette, though it was a bit overwhelmed by the richer caponata (eggplant). I also liked it with a panini of fontina, spinach, mushroom and porcini oil; the wine seemed to meld with the earthiness of the fontina and mushrooms while still cutting cleanly through the richness of the cheese. 87 points, non-blind.

Everyone's willingness to try something different paid off. Each of us ended the evening with a new discovery we’d be happy to revisit.

Member comments   2 comment(s)

Stephen Kratzke — Rockville, MD —  September 10, 2010 10:40pm ET

Hi Dana:

Sounds like a great evening (and a great job). I love exploring Italian wines. I've never had Damilano Arneis, but I was struck by its crispness when you tasted it. I've had Arneis by Vietti and Giacosa and I'm usually stuck by the aromas, even in the mouth and its apple flavors. Now I'm intrigued by the Damilano Arneis. I will try to order it here from my wine shop.

This summer, we've had some good Italian roses available in Washinton, including my first-ever Campanian rose (made from Piedirosso) and Cesualos from the Montepulciano grape.

I like your group's willingness to try something different, because that's really the key to discoveries, especially with Italian wines. Keep it up.

Dana Nigro — New York, NY —  September 13, 2010 12:00pm ET

Hi Stephen,

I have to make a point of looking for the Vietti and Giacosa Arneis bottlings, since I love their reds. Sounds as if their Arneis wines emphasize more apple, pear and peach fruit, while Damilano leans toward the citrus flavors a bit more.

It's so much fun exploring Italian wines, since there are so many unique grape varieties and distinctive styles. Keep us updated on any other great discoveries you make!


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